"Auntie F. came in announcing dramatically that Hitler is coming tomorrow, at which my father remarked that he would, now that he's just finished papering upstairs.
At the outbreak of World War Two, May Smith was twenty-four. She lived in a small village near Derby with her parents, and taught at the local elementary school.
The war brought many changes: evacuees arrived in the village; nights were broken by the wail of the siren as bombers flew overhead; the young men of May's circle donned khaki and disappeared to far-flung places to 'do their bit'. But a great deal remained the same: May still enjoyed tennis parties, holidays to Llandudno and going shopping for new outfits - coupons and funds permitting. And it was during these difficult times that May fell in love.
These Wonderful Rumours! gives a unique and surprising insight into life on the Home Front. Through May Smith's observant, witty and sometimes acerbic diary, we gain a new understanding of how the people of Britain coped with the uncertainty, the heartbreak and the black comedy of life during wartime."
Now I can hear you all thinking...maybe...'Do we really need yet another wartime diary?' and I might have agreed with you until I opened this one. I do enjoy them I have to admit, after all one of my most memorable reading experiences was to read Vere Hodgson's Few Eggs and No Oranges alongside Vera Brittain's Wartime Chronicles 1939 -1945 covering exactly the same days. While Vere shovelled up rubble, Vera lunched at the Savoy...or was it the Ritz. May was an admirer of E.M.Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady and as Juliet Gardiner suggests in her introduction,
'May was a natural diarist - a rarer gift than one might imagine...the great appeal of May's diary is how it enables us to understand the mundaneness as well as the drama of life in the 1940s...May Smith dilutes the exceptionalism of wartime and provides a compellingly authentic snapshot of life as it was really lived.'
I will do the 'Compare and Contrast the Diaries' read of this one too and am looking forward to it.
From teachers to... oh, it's Friday let's make it quilts why not.
I have been looking forward to Quilt Grandeur, the new patchwork and quilting collaboration between Kaffe Fassett and Rowan, since hearing that it had all been photographed at Port Eliot last year. Catherine St Germans very kindly put Kaffe and his partner Brandon in contact with me and some inspirational books have been arriving ever since.
The Port Eliot setting is so perfect for quilts. The gentle, lived-in backdrop of a much-loved home, where the furnishings that the twenty-first century would discard for reasons of wear and tear have become features in their own right. I have seen the bed used in the cover picture and its hangings are every bit as faded and ragged as it looks, but they have been gently coaxed back to life to tell a story of their own and providing such a subtle contrast for the dazzling quilt resting on top. Quilts draped across tables and over doors, in the Orangery and by the pool, in front of the Lenkiewicz artwork in the Round Room, it's all sumptuous and a joy to see.
Clear guidance as always, fabric selection lists if you want to make exact replicas, good templates to trace, precise cutting instructions and easy to follow assembly instructions along with the brilliant and unlikely fabric combinations for which Kaffe is famed, and which I would just never have dared to try before I got bold with the diamonds.
I have my Kaffe Diamonds quilt to settle down with 'next time it rains' ...and I am really starting to look forward to some winter making-things days, so no immediate plans for a Kaffe sequel as yet, and I have Lucy Boston's quilts lined up to explore next, but a book like this remains a steady and inspirational influence and a reminder, should ever I need it, that colour and pattern are there to be used.